Lesson Plan

Argumentative Essay Unit:
Lesson Plan and Class Activities

Global Learning Outcomes for this Unit
*In the course of completing the assignment students will:
1. Learn to compose an argumentation-oriented thesis
2. Defend their thesis with academic-quality research that is properly sourced and cited as per the
standard of university level writing
3. Anticipate and respond to counterarguments
4. Learn to critically engage the revision process through draft writing, instructor conferencing,
and peer commentary
5. Respond the work of their peers as peer reviewers while providing relevant, productive feedback

Class 1 – Introducing the Classical Argument Essay
*Daily Learning Outcomes:
* Reflect on Informative Essay
* Introduce Classical Argument Essay
* Break down the assignment sheet

*Activity 1: Individual Reflection / Class Discussion (15 min)
– Students open their portfolios and journals then reflect for ~10 minutes on their
experiences during the Informative Essay Unit
– Discuss reflections as a class

*Activity 2: Introduce Classical Argument (20 min)
– Have students bring a hard copy of the assignment to class with a highlighter:
a. Get into groups of 4
b. Read the sheet aloud, highlighting all the action verbs
c. Discuss the sheet as a group as instructor makes rounds

*Activity 3: Mini-Lecture on Assignment /Questions (15 min)
– Powerpoint slides “The Features of an Academic Argument”
– Allow time for student questions on the assignment and/or lecture

*Homework for Next Class
· Chapter 8 A&B Guide to Writing. Writing a Classical Argument.
· Pages 137-154 Everyday Writer: Constructing Arguments.
· “The Case for (Gay) Marriage” by A.J. Chavez on pages 249-253 of Guide to Writing.
· Notes on Counterarguments and Warrants.

WRITTEN (Post in Moodle and bring a copy to class):
Let’s look at how another student, A.J. Chavez, put the strategy of addressing counterarguments into practice in the essay “A Case for (Gay) Marriage” on pages 249-253.

The purpose of paragraph 3 of the essay is to list the possible counterarguments, and he gives a good size laundry list here:

1. Marriage is between a man and a woman.
2. The well-being of children raised by gay couples.
3. Certain religious texts prohibit homosexual relations.
4. Marriage is reserved for procreation.
5. Gay couples have other legal options than marriage.
6. Laws on gay marriage should be left to the individual states.
7. Gay marriage will open the doors to more radical unions, like polygamy.
8. Some in the gay community see it as an attempt to copy the hetero lifestyle.

ASSIGMENT: Choose THREE of these eight counterarguments Chavez brings up and first explain in detail how Chavez has chosen to address each of the two opposing views in his essay, then comment why or why not each strategy was successful.

***Remember–paragraph 3 only gives the counterarguments, you will find where he addresses each one somewhere after paragraph 3.

Some questions you can ask for guidance: Does he refute, concede, or qualify? Does he refute the claim and reason, or the warrant? If he concedes, how does he shift the focus to a different set of values?
To make things easier, you can organize your response as a list based on the numbers above.

(10 points)

Class 2 – Introducing the Classical Argument Essay
*Daily Learning Outcomes:
1. Deconstructing argumentative claims
2. Recognizing counterarguments
3. Assessing how evidence is used to support an argumentative claim

*Activity 1: Are You For or Against an Argument? (5 min)
– From page 213 of A&B, students choose one of the 5 claims listed and freewrite at least 3 reasons
to argue for or against this claim

*Activity 2: Comparing Arguments & Mini-lecture (20 min)
– In teams of 2 students will explain which of the 5 claims they chose and what reasons they
selected to argue for or against the claim
– Have one team share one reason for arguing for or against each of the 5 claims with the class
– Prompt the class to discuss why it’s important to present and respond to counterarguments in a
classical argument essay
– Project and go over the strategies for addressing counterarguments

*Activity 3: Understanding Chavez (35 min)
Write on the board (While students are in their teams of 2):
– Marriage is between a man and a woman.
– The well-being of children raised by gay couples.
– Certain religious texts prohibit homosexual relations.
– Marriage is reserved for procreation.
– Gay couples have other legal options than marriage.
– Laws on gay marriage should be left to the individual states.
– Gay marriage will open the doors to more radical unions, like polygamy.
– Some in the gay community see it as an attempt to copy the hetero lifestyle.
For the Activity:
– Now assign each team one of the counterarguments that Chavez raises: each group discusses and
presents aloud whether Chavez chose to refute, concede, or qualify his argument
– Briefly discuss whether Chavez was successful or not, as well as why (Project each
counterargument claim and reason)

*Homework for Next Class
· Chapter 20 A&B Guide to Writing. Asking Questions, Finding Sources.

WRITTEN (Post in Moodle and bring to class):
Compose a response that contains these two elements:
PART I. Based on the invention exercise you completed in your journals, formulate three research questions that address three different topic focuses. The research questions should be designed to lead you to an answer that will then become the thesis you will want to argue. Eventually, you will choose one of the as your paper focus. (5 points)

PART II. For each of the three research questions, respond to these prompts on page 649 to evaluate their feasibility.
· Are you personally interested in this question? Why?
· Is the question both problematic and significant? How?
· Is the question limited enough for the intended length of the paper? Why?
· Is the question appropriate for your level of expertise? Why? (5 points)

Class 3 –Your Argument and Your Audience
*Daily Learning Outcomes:
1. Learning to identify audience through the framework of “community”
2. Topic invention and tailoring your argument to your audience

*Activity 1a: Community as an Audience (10 min)
– In groups of 3 have students freewrite for 10 minutes to provide 5-10 communities they are a
part of, explaining each community in 1-2 sentences

*Activity 1b: Community as an Audience (20 min)
Students will then:
– share their examples with the group, highlighting 3 they could use as the audience for an
argumentative essay
– brainstorm 1 significant argumentative claim within each of the 3 communities
– narrow down, as a group, to the 1 argumentative claim they think has the most merit; have a
group member from each group write it on the board

*Activity 2: Community as an Audience (20 min)
“Communities Worksheet”

*Homework for Next Class
· James Gardiner’s student essay: “How Do Online Social Networks Affect Communication?” (A&B pg.

WRITTEN (Post in Moodle):
Highlight areas where you believe Gardiner’s presentation of research is particularly persuasive (or not persuasive). Create a brief post in which you discuss:
· What types of appeals does the author make in his effort to persuade?
· How effective are these appeals?
· If they are not effective, what might have helped his argument?
(10 points)

Class 4 –Credible Sources and Presenting Claims
*Daily Learning Outcomes:
1. Continuing to identify well-supported versus weak claims
2. Rhetorical overview of reliable sources of research
3. Creating a research log to outline research

*Activity 1: Group Analysis of Gardiner’s Essay (20 min)
– In groups of 3, have students:
a. Answer questions 1 & 2 on pg 652 about Gardiner’s research
b. Discuss their homework, agreeing on 3 of Gardiner’s most well-argued claims and 3 claims that
were not persuasive
c. Come up with examples from the text where Gardiner appeals to logos, ethos, and pathos

*Activity 2: Credible Sources Discussion/Lecture (20 min)
– Begin Introduce Library Database System on projector display. Write on the board, introducing
all the steps necessary for using the website:
· Logging in
· Finding Databases
· Keyword Vs. Subject Word Search
· Boolean Searches
· Citation Tools
· Abstract Versus an Article

– Brainstorm a list of these questions as well as why they should be asked., posting student’s
replying in a Moodle forum on the topic created before class:
· Author’s Purpose (.org, gov, edu, com)?
· Author’s Credentials?
· Accuracy?
· Date of Publication?
· Angle of Vision / Stance? Degree of Advocacy?
· Cited Evidence?
· Listing of Sources?

· Note: Is it appropriate to list Wikipedia as a valid source in an academic research paper?

– Look up one of the topics (from a student volunteer) on Wikipedia and evaluate using the criteria above, beginning from the Library Database homepage.

*Activity 3: Research Log (10 min)
– Begin research log (to be posted in Moodle) with a 10 minute freewrite on where to start your
research – would you look to Wikipedia for background information, use a search engine for
preliminary arguments, utilize a print source (such as a scholarly book or journal)?

*Homework for Next Class
· Chapter 21 A&B Guide to Writing: Evaluating Sources.

WRITTEN (submit to and bring a copy to class):
Compose a single document that has these two elements:
· Your tentative thesis statement for the Classical Argument Essay. This should be a single
statement that asserts the view that you will be arguing. This should not be a question not
should it be a long explanation of what you are going to write about – this is a one sentence
statement. Feel free to refer back to Concept 6 in Chapter 2 (pages 42-45) for more guidance
on good thesis statements.
(4 points)

· Using Google (or other search engine), find an internet source (non-library) for your
Classical Argument Essay; using the criteria from table 21.2 on page 676 as guidance, compose
a short essay (minimum 300 words) arguing whether or not this source is appropriate for your
college-level research paper. And don’t be afraid to argue that it’s not appropriate!

Your short essay should include:

· A clear assertion of your belief in the source’s appropriateness;
· Support for this thesis using evidence from the source that matches (or fails to match)
appropriate criteria listed in table 21.2–you should include one supporting point from each
of the five criteria categories: Authority; Objectivity, Coverage, Accuracy, and Currency.
· A listing of the source in properly formatted MLA, as if listed in a Works Cited page.

Keep in mind you do not have to mention all the criteria in table 21.2 to support your argument; rather, again, choose at least one criteria from each of the five categories that you think best fits the source you are evaluating.
(6 points)
Class 5 –Credible Sources and Presenting Claims
*Daily Learning Outcomes:
1. Look at the importance of evaluating web sources
2. Give and receive feedback on thesis statements
3. Collaborative invention work to form counterarguments

*Activity 1: Lecture/Discussion on Web Sources (12 min)
– Project the “Criteria for Evaluating Web Sources” (Table 21.2, pg. 676) and discuss the five
listed criteria in context.
– Ask for several students to volunteer their thesis statement and corresponding web source from
the homework; project each example via Moodle and entreat the class to discuss each student’s
selected source in the context of their thesis (use Table 21.2 as reference)

*Activity 2: Thesis Statement Peer Review (23 min)
– Students get into groups of 3 and peer review each others’ thesis statements, submitting the
below prompts as one Moodle post or on one sheet of paper. Each student will share their thesis
with the group and then will use these questions as guidance (project for reference):

Is the statement made in a single, clear, grammatically correct sentence? If not, how could it be improved?
Decide as a group who the audience is in the thesis. Does the thesis:

1. Change the current opinion of an audience that holds a different view?
2. Persuade an uninformed audience to adopt your view (requires more background information)?
3. Persuade an agreeing and informed audience to act (why is it urgent enough to act)?

Does the statement assert a controversial view about the topic? In other words, would anyone credibly argue that this stated view is not true? If not, how could it be improved to increase the tension?
Does the thesis assert a view that is significant? In other words, is there something significantly at stake for the audience in this argument? If not, how could it be improved to increase the tension?

*Activity 3: Thesis Counterargument Role Playing (15 min)
– In each group, students will now role play for each other in an effort to provide
counterarguments. One group member will defend their thesis while the other members take on an
invented persona that seeks to counter the initial claim. The “defendant” will attempt to guess
what the persona is of the other group members.
Example: a claim to legalize marijuana might be opposed by:
1. A conservative religious leader because it’s immoral
2. Concerned parents because it’s dangerous
3. Drug Dealers because they will lose business

*Homework for Next Class
· Remember to sign up for the time slot you would like for conferences on Moodle; the building
and room number will be posted this week and announced in class

· Review pages 585-591 from Chapter 18 A&B: Skill 7: Plan and Visualize Your Structure.
· “Paintball: Promoter of Violence or Healthy Fun?” on pages 234-237 A&B Guide to Writing.

WRITTEN (Post in Moodle and bring a copy to class):
· Provide detailed answers to all four questions on page 237’s “Thinking Critically about
‘Paintball: Promoter of Violence or Healthy Fun?”
· Begin work on a research log. Make at least two research source entries in the log for this
homework – one source that you deem to be credible and one that is not. Outline your
justifications in 1-2 sentences, making sure to list each source in proper MLA format.
(10 points)

Class 6 – Methods for Outlining an Argument
*Daily Learning Outcomes:
1. Analyze a model essay for structure
2. Look at the prewriting strategy of outlining
3. Begin to outline argumentative essay from in-class frameworks

*Activity 1: Mini-Lecture on Outline Styles (15 min)
– Students will be exposed to several different methods of outlining from both the Everyday Writer
text as well as the A&B textbook.
– Project figure 8.1 on page 228, then go over what is the expected framework of a Classical
Argument Essay.
– Project figure 18.2 on page 589, then go over what is the expected format for a forma outline.

*Activity 2a: In-class Student Outlining (~30 min)

– To complete the outline, students will refer to the assignment sheet for Essay #3 and the
Everyday Writer, Ch. 13 pages 151-52. Instructor will answer individual questions and work with
students on the following prompt:

Following the classical system of argument, craft a detailed outline for Conferences by responding to the questions listed below. The more thorough you make your outline, the easier it should be to write your draft. Be sure to post your outline to Moodle by 12 noon Conference Day. Do not include prompt questions in the outline; only use the responses. Minimum word count: 550 words.

Title of your Classical Argument Essay

1) Introduction
a) How will you hook your reader’s interest? Will you open with a hypothetical scenario, a true-to-life anecdote, example, or surprising facts? Be specific.
b) Assuming your readers don’t agree with you, how can you establish common ground with them? In what ways will you show yourself to be fair?
c) State your thesis statement or claim. Be sure to include both a stance and reason for that position.

2) Background
a) Briefly summarize the background information you plan to include in your argument. What does the reader need to know about the topic?
b) What sources will you use to provide credible background information?

3) Lines of Argument
a) Why should the reader accept your claim (thesis)? Starting with your most persuasive point, list your reasons.
b) How well do these reasons appeal to logic? How well do they appeal to pathos?
c) How are the reasons in the reader’s best interest?

4) Alternative Arguments
a) List possible counterarguments to your claim (thesis).
b) List possible counterarguments to your reasons.
c) Identify the advantages and disadvantages of the counterarguments.
d) How will you respond to these counterarguments? What rebuttals will you use? What points will you concede to? How can you qualify your argument to protect it from the counterargument?

5) Conclusion
a) Summarize your essay’s argument, reminding readers of the thesis.
b) What do you want the reader to think or do about your essay’s topic?

*Activity 2b: General Questions on Outlining/Unit (~5 min)
– Leave time at the end of the lesson for students to ask universal questions regarding the outline
methods and unit assignment on the whole

*Homework for Next Class
· James Gardiner’s Outline on page 589 of Guide to Writing for reference for composing your own

Submit to and bring a hard copy to conference a working outline for your Classical Argument Essay. This document should have these three elements:

Tentative title.
Your outline of the essay.
Working bibliography as a properly formatted MLA Works Cited page.

Look at the “Outline Notes” in this lesson for comprehensive guidance on composing your outline.
(6 points)

(4 points)
Class 7 – Library Scavenger Hunt
*Daily Learning Outcomes:
1. Knowing and utilizing the wide variety of library resources
2. Understand the importance of web sources as well as hard sources

*Activity 1: Library Scavenger Hunt
Students will receive the following document at the classroom at which point the class will move to the library:

Read the whole assignment. This assignment does not need to be completed in chronological order. Keep in mind question #8 should be completed before class time is over. Post this assignment to Moodle by 12am today.

Contributing peer group members:
ENC 1101: Library Scavenger Hunt

1) Activate your library access on your FIU One card at the Circulation Desk.

2) What are the library’s normal operating hours for the Fall 2011 term? _______________________________________________________________________________

3) What is the library’s web address? ________________________________________________________________________________

4) Find a library map. Which entire floors are designated as quiet zones? ________________________________________________________________________________

5) Imagine that you are working on a group project. How would you reserve a group study room?


6) Where can you borrow one of the library’s laptops? For how long can you use it?


7) Where are the photocopiers located?

8) On the Informative Essay assignment sheet, an example is given of a student who decides to research the effects of gas and oil research on the Amazon’s ecosystem. Locate the following materials for her project.
a) Using Academic One File, find a peer-reviewed, full text article published within the last three years. Use the citation feature to provide its MLA-style Works Cited citation on the lines below.


b) Dissertations of FIU Master’s and PhD alumni are stored in the library. Locate an alumnus’s dissertation written on the topic of indigenous populations and the oil politics of a neighboring nation’s Amazonian forest. Provide the dissertation’s title, the author, and the committee members’ names on the lines below (Instructor will be waiting here to take group attendance).


9) FIU librarians offer students support from home too. Name four ways you can get help when you’re off campus.


10) Sometimes peers can be our best resources when researching and writing. Stop by The Center for Excellence in Writing (GL 125). Introduce yourselves to a CEW staff member. Learn how to schedule an appointment. Write the name of the CEW staff member assisting you below. Please ask them for their name, signature and CEW stamp.

We talked with a (receptionist/tutor) named ______________________________________________________________________(print)

____________________________________________________ (signature)

________________________________________________________ (stamp)
(20 points)

*Homework for Next Class
WRITTEN (Post to Moodle):
Continue working on research logs. For this homework, include at least 3 sources that you deem credible – one of which must be of ACADEMIC quality. Refer to our class discussions and you’re A&B text for more
on academic sources of research and reference.
(10 points)

Class 8 – Conferences
*Daily Learning Outcomes:
1. Provide feedback to students on their outlines
2. Listen to students articulate how the approached the unit
3. Reinforce the importance of unity, coherence, proper argumentation, and proper citation

*Homework for Next Class
WRITTEN (Bring to class and turn in):
List 5 questions you would have for a professor that teaches upper-level classes and/or a graduate student in an MA or PhD program. These questions should generally refer to the topics of the unit (thesis invention, writing techniques, research, etc.) but they can also be more global questions about the undergraduate environment for upperclassmen. (10 points)

Class 9 – Research Panel Q&A
*Daily Learning Outcomes:
1. Engage the panel of upperclassmen instructors and graduate students on issues of outlining,
research, and rhetorical development
2. Better understand how the Argumentative Essay Unit will provide a foundation for future academic

*Activity 1: Research Panel Discussion (20 min)
– Instructor will prep the selected panel members before the class as to the nature of the unit
and where the students are in their frameworking process
– Panel will be comprised (ideally) of two professors from upper-level writing-intensive courses
as well as at least 1 graduate student
– Panel will take a few minutes to introduce themselves and comment broadly on the subject matter
and then focus on specific issues or concerns from the students

*Activity 2: Question and Answer Session (30 min)

*Homework for Next Class
· Review pages 729-736 of Chapter 23 A&B Guide to Writing: Skill 33, “Citing and Documenting
· Everyday Writer pages 347-352: “Ways to Peer Review”

WRITTEN (Post in Moodle):
· Also bring to class two or three questions about your own draft (that aren’t listed in the
peer review questions) that you would like a reviewer to respond to as a means to help your
(10 points)

Class 10 –Peer Techniques & Proper Citation Methods
*Daily Learning Outcomes:
1. Identify useful and constructive techniques for peer review
2. Learn how to apply peer review methods
3. Identify common mistakes in research citation

*Activity 1: Mini-Lecture on Peer Revision Techniques (18 min)

*Activity 2: Mini-Lecture: Avoiding Plagiarism (22 min)

*Activity 3: Class Discussion / Questions (10 min)

*Homework for Next Class
· Review pages 568-575 of Chapter 18 A&B Guide to Writing: “Use Peer Reviews to Help You Think
Like an Expert”
· Classical Argument Essay Peer Review Questions.

WRITTEN (Post in Moodle)
· Create a post in Moodle that opens with your thesis statement and includes your Works Cited
page, listing at least 7 sources for your paper in proper MLA citation format
(6 points)

· Post and also bring to class three questions about your own draft (that aren’t listed in the
peer review questions) that you would like your reviewer to respond to.
(4 points)
Print out and bring to class the Peer Review Worksheet posted on Moodle.

Class 11 – Peer Review of Essay Drafts
*Daily Learning Outcomes:
1. Applying peer review techniques
2. Responding to peer feedback and effective peer edits
3. Recognizing recurring thematic or syntactical issues in an essay

*Activity 1: Peer Reviews
– In groups of three, have students read against-the-grain, then respond to all the questions
thoroughly and do so in complete sentences. Once they finish one essay, rotate to the next

1. The assignment asked the writer to accomplish one of the following tasks:
a) Change the current opinion of an audience that holds a different view.
b) Persuade an uninformed audience to adopt your view (requires more background info.)
c) Persuade an agreeing and informed audience to act (why is it urgent enough to act?)
Which task does the writer attempt? Is the essay successful in accomplishing the task? How or how

2. Title.
By reading the title only, do you understand what the essay will argue?
How well does it grab the reader’s attention? Make suggestions for improvement.

3. Opening paragraph (pathos):
How does the writer take hold of the audience’s emotions and/or values in the introduction? Does he/she use a story or example to draw the reader in? How could the introduction be made more compelling?

4. Thesis statement:
What is the essay’s claim? How easy or difficult is it to understand the writer’s position. Make suggestions for clarity. What reasons are given in the thesis statement for the writer’s argument?

5. Relevance:
How relevant, timely, and significant is the essay’s argument to a South Florida audience? If the argument does not appear to be timely and significant to a local audience, how might the writer refocus the argument or topic to make it more important to the audience?

6. Background:
What sources does the writer cite when giving background on the topic? What more would you like to know about the subject? Point to specific places that would benefit from more research.

7. Lines of argument:
List the reasons the writer gives in support of the main claim (thesis). How logical are they? Point out any reasons based on belief, rather than rational thought. See EW, Ch. 12F. What logical fallacies does the writer use? What reasons are missing from the essay’s body that could further support the claim?

8. Organization of support:
Are the reasons ordered in terms of importance, with the most convincing statements first? Suggest revisions to the body’s organization. See EW page 151-152.

9. Empirical evidence:
How much source information, including statistics and factual evidence, is provided to persuade the audience to accept the claim? Where is this information coming from? Evaluate the quality and credibility of the research.

10. Counterarguments:
What counterarguments does the writer address in the essay? Can you think of any counterarguments that are missing from the discussion? List them. How effectively does the writer respond to the opposition’s concerns? Does the writer make concessions, give rebuttals, or qualify his/her statements.

11. Conclusion:
What are the essay’s strongest points? Are these points returned to in the conclusion? What last impression does the essay give the reader? How persuasive is the conclusion’s summary? What more could the writer do to convince an opposing view?

Class 12 –Essay Reflection
*Daily Learning Outcomes:
Final Draft Due
1. Reflect on the experience of writing the essay
2. Introduce the Timed Essay?


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: